OCTOBER 7, 2011: BACK TO THE FUTURE–WE NEED TO PUT FINS BACK ON CARS

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It would be fair to say that fins were born on the 1948 Cadillac and fizzled out in the 60s.

 

The high water mark ran from the mid-50s to the very early 60s when fin cars dominated Detroit’s automotive style.

 

These days fin cars are very popular among collectors because their unique ready-for-takeoff appearance reminds many car guys of a space age time and place when fins were king and the space race was young.

 

Detroit even incorporated a unique push button automatic transmission to give their models a blast-off and go-button of unique space age excitement.

 

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The fins lost serious altitude in the early 60s as manufacturers forged a newer style that emphatically left fins out of the formula. The 60s look was sleeker and less outlandish, and it identified a new automotive decade with a modern style that was aerodynamic and thus slicker for freeway speeds.

 

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Fin cars became highly disposable because they were practically an overnight four- wheeled automotive anachronism- instantly unloved and unwanted by a public that deserted them in droves.

 

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To many drivers, they looked as foreign on the road as a Model T in the 60s.

 

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The fin cars became the star attraction in demolition derbies and car crusher facilities and suddenly there was a lot less of them left in the world.

 

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The love for fin cars was vaporized, and so were the fin cars as the years went by in car world. Sure the iconic and eternally popular Tri-Five Chevies were spared the guillotine, but most of their GM brethren and their Big Three competitors were not as lucky.

 

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The others were flattened and recycled as stoves, fridges and probably 60s cars.

 

These days the fin car culture is alive and well, probably because there are not many left in the ranks that were born in the 50s. Bruce Springsteen’s tribute car song ‘Cadillac Ranch‘ has the lyrics “Tearing up the highway like a big old dinosaur”, a reference to the finned Caddys.

 

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“Dinosaur” is an accurate term in the lyrics because there are no actual giant dinosaurs left from their glory days, and finned cars are pretty close to extinction.

 

Perhaps it is time for a bold Detroit car company to build a limited edition tribute fin car to celebrate a golden era when fins ruled the roads. Chrysler had Virgil Exner, GM had Harley Earl, and Ford had Henry Ford II to lead the way in the age of fins. Their names could be a part of the tribute nameplate, possibly on the rear fins.

 

 

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It is not a likely prospect, but fin cars will continue to be the darlings of the car shows because their herd has been thinned-almost to extinction in some cases.

Catch them while you still can at your friendly neighborhood car show.

 

Jim Sutherland

More stories at-https://www.mystarcollectorcar.com/

COMMENTS

DENNIS:”Bring back the fin? Actually, it’s a very likely prospect. Remember what cars looked like before ‘the fin’? Cars like the Hudson and the (bath tub) Nash for instance? They looked very much like today’s ‘turtle cars’. There is little ‘new’ in automotive design, take the new Mustangs and Camaro’s for instance. The ‘Baby Boomers’ gobble em up and the ‘kids’ think they are the latest ‘high tech’ design around.

“Fins”, why not? Of course, these days they will call them something like “Lateral Spoilers” to “increase stability or improve gas mileage”, or something like that. The aftermarket will sell ‘bolt-on fins’ (remember those?) for the little ‘tuner cars’ like they do with these bolt-on trunk spoilers and ‘ground effects kits’, so the kids can look modern. The ‘I-Pad generation’ will see them as ‘the latest thing’ but we old codgers will know what’s really going on

 

 

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